Jacques: Biden's VP vow cheapens honor for women

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

During the Democratic presidential debate Sunday, Joe Biden promised he’d pick a woman for vice president. 

While his commitment has gotten a lot of praise from men and women on the left, is it really what’s best for women? 

Or our country? 

Let’s face it. The remaining Democratic contenders, Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, are in their upper 70s, and both look as if they are feeling the strain of the campaign trail. 

From left, Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Cory Booker join hands on stage.

There’s a decent chance that if one of these men makes it to the Oval Office, his No. 2 may end up running the country before the term is up. 

So this individual should have the executive experience to do the job. 

Sanders, to his credit, didn’t outright swear to choose a woman, although he said he would “in all likelihood” do so. He wants to make sure he can find a woman who fits his progressive standards. 

More:Biden commits to picking woman as running mate if nominated

Since Biden and Sanders are white (and male), the vice president pick will hold more importance than normal in energizing voters, says Detroit political consultant Mario Morrow.

“It is more crucial than ever before,” Morrow says. 

I have no doubt there are plenty of qualified women who would fit the bill. But the names being circulated at the moment don’t instill a lot of confidence. 

Rather, Democrats seem more concerned with identity politics and checking as many boxes as possible — and the Electoral College count. Biden is getting pressure to not only pick a woman, but a woman of color. 

For instance, Stacey Abrams appears to be a top choice. She’s done an effective job the last few years of building a national profile, but she became known for running for governor of Georgia in 2018. And she didn’t win. She previously served in the state House. 

Is that enough to qualify her for this job? 

Another woman getting a lot of attention is Florida U.S. Rep. Val Demings. She gained some name recognition serving as one of the House managers during President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings. 

And of course, there is Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose national profile rose sharply after Democratic leaders chose her to offer the party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address last month. Many thought that indicated she was on the shortlist for vice president. 

Since then, she has made much more frequent rounds on the cable news channels, fielding questions about whether she’d consider the VP offer if she got it. 

Whitmer endorsed Biden, ahead of Michigan’s March 10 presidential primary, and although he made her one of his national campaign chairs, she maintains she’s not interested in a spot on the ticket but is helping him vet the best candidates. 

“I think it’s important he has a woman running mate,” Whitmer said in a Monday interview on MSNBC

Whitmer at least has executive experience as governor, but she’s only a year into her tenure. And it hasn’t exactly gone smoothly, with an unnecessary budget fight last fall that put vulnerable residents at risk, among other missteps. 

Women should absolutely be on the VP list, but Biden’s vow to award the position to a woman cheapens the honor by putting identity over qualifications. Only the best candidates — men and women — should be on that list. 

And if a woman proves to be the top contender, good for her. 

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques